It is dark, and I am sitting on a rock in the forest. The moonlight breaks through the trees and offers just enough light. The smell of the damp forest wraps its arms around me and welcomes me like an old friend. I am waiting for Coyote, and as usual I am not sure if this is a dream or a vision. Coyote has become my friend and writing partner, and our relationship means a lot to me. He is usually here by now, and I begin to wonder if perhaps this was not a visit from Coyote but something else altogether.
I hear a rustling in the trees, and Coyote appears wearing a top hat and looking at an iPhone and chuckling.
“Your Aunty is so funny.” Coyote laughs and taps away at his iPhone in what can only be a response to a text message.
“My Aunty??” My voice is a little shriller than I intend.
“Don’t worry, I don’t tell her your secrets, but we do make fun of… I mean laugh… She reminded me. I was supposed to meet you.” Coyote nods his head in reassurance.
“I want to ask you if you will help me write about my worldview?”
“What would I tell people? I guess I could tell them how wonderful I am and how I am the centre of everything. … Oh… and maybe how my wonderful mentoring centres you and connects story to place and (dis)place and how story is weaved together to create a place that just is, a place that is neither people’s home territories but is their home territories at the same time. I should also tell them that of course I would support you in making sure you do your work in a good way … I mean you still need a lot of help … and that you should put people’s voices at the heart of everything you do. OH OH… I would tell them how I know a story for everything and that stories live forever, and there isn’t anything that isn’t tied to me and my stories. I mean, I am the centre of everything, and everything is the centre of me. Indeed! I think this is an excellent idea I had in helping you write my worldview and making sure you understand the importance of listening. After all, who else would you ask to help you with understanding the world?” Coyote stops to catch his breath and looks excited.
“Coyote, thank you, but my worldview needs to focus on the teachings of who I am and what I know as an Anishnaabe/Nehiyaw woman from Muscowpetung and what guides me and the stories that have been passed down. Your voice is important, and you do know a lot about telling a good story…” My voice trails off as I look over and realize that Coyote is no longer listening to me and is admiring himself in a hand mirror as he wanders off into the forest.
“Thank you, Coyote,” I yell.
“See you soon. You will need me,” he chuckles in response.
As always, my meeting with Coyote leaves me baffled and enlightened. As the way of all good storytellers, he has left me with answers and questions. Coyote is correct, and I go back to what I learned at 9 years old in my Kookum’s kitchen, that story is always at the beginning, middle, end and centre of what we do and not necessarily in that order. Indigenous worldview is complicated, but I know that the best place to start is always with a story.